Post-Holiday Blues?

Hmm, in a previous blog here I questioned if the fact that I am not actively looking for work is a sign of depression. And in last week’s blog here, I indicated how I almost felt like I could hibernate. One of the ways to ensure happiness is not to allow yourself new experiences so you only judge things as you know them to be. My life is great in so many ways but going on holiday has given me the blues.

I don’t think it’s so much the physical break from London. Rather it’s the loss of warmth, dryness, and light that I am now experiencing. I miss the ability to sit in pleasant light watching the world go by with a glass of wine – the ultimate sign of civilisation. Probably just need to ride the lows and wait for the highs to arrive (i.e. pull myself together and get over it), realising how nice my life is. But I’m still feeling blue being back home.

Same shit different day

  • Dealing with the blues linked to weather, darkness, no gym, and ongoing injuries
  • 2 books read and reviewed: a comfort read and the biography of an infamous businessman
  • Caring for mum, trying to keep up with daily Duolingo, and getting rid of stuff

Gym and swim

There is absolutely no doubt that one of the reasons I feel blue is simply because I can’t get to my beloved gym. Fingers crossed it will open the week after next. I went swimming twice, on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. Decent workouts though I worry about getting an ear infection and it is a bit dull simply going backwards and forwards. But interesting to note how fewer lengths I swim now compared when I was a student and in a much bigger pool.

swimming pool lanes

Ankle / Achilles injury goes on

Another reason I’m feeling a bit down is simply my ongoing injury. It is getting better and I am seeing the physio next week. Indeed, I managed to do a long walk on Saturday from seeing mum to meeting Patrick for coffee. But I still can’t go on tip-toes on my injured leg. And sometimes my knee hurts as well – the whole leg feels fucked. I’m just wondering how long this will take to get better. And even thinking that I may never get back to jogging.

INR stability

Chased by the Anti-Coagulation clinic to come for my INR test to check my blood clotting. Apparently I was very overdue though I was trying to make sure I was back to my normal alcohol intake post-holiday. Otherwise I wouldn’t get a normal reading and would end up having to go far more frequently until things were back to normal. Good news that I went on Friday and got a reading in range. Hooray, so next visit not till January.

warfarin tablets

Weight wobbles

A small rise to just over 12 stone and 13 pounds. Does putting on weight lead to the blues or does having the blues mean you eat more? Probably inter-connected. Key issue is not to get too down but watch what I am eating and drinking. I still think part of the issue is that I can’t get to the gym and so I am not burning up calories. Pretty sure experts say dieting is 80% what you eat and 20% exercise. But it always feels to me that I put weight on in the absence of exercise.

Two books finished last week.

‘Reverse of the Medal’ by Patrick O’Brian

I have certain authors who have written book series that I go back to every so often for a comfort read. Great writers like Terry Pratchett, Lindsay Davies, and Christopher Fowler. The only sad thing about these series is that many of the novelists are dead and so the number of books to look forward to reading is finite. Definitely on this list is Patrick O’Brian with his masterful naval stories of the Napoleonic War featuring the bromance of Captain Jack Aubrey and ship’s surgeon / international spy Stephen Maturin.

I really don’t always get the naval details in O’Brian’s books. I’ve never been into sailing, tried it once and it was too much like bloody hard work. And I never served in the navy. Though, interestingly, it appears O’Brian had only limited experience himself. But he writes such that you feel you are on a navy frigate in the early nineteenth century. It’s swashbuckling but based on real life including the grime and mundanity of conflict.

TBH, I don’t always follow the story not least because it is often quite byzantine. But O’Brian whips along and if you stick with it then all becomes clearer as time passes. Perhaps it’s this real-to-life chaos that adds to the appeal of his writings. And the beauty of his characters. I feel like Aubrey and Maturin were real people. I know so much about them, how could they not have existed? I genuinely care what happens next in their lives such that I look forward to reading the next book in the series.

be grateful for books

‘Fall: The Mystery of Robert Maxwell’ by John Preston

I’m continuing my new policy of reading biographies of people I find interesting but where I don’t know the full story of their life. This is an award winning biography. Maxwell was certainly a dominant figure in the 80s and his death was spectacular. As was the revelation of him stealing the money from the Mirror pension fund, the trial of his sons, and then the involvement of his daughter with Jeffrey Epstein (this book goes some way to explaining her behaviour).

This book is eminently well written and readable, giving me details on his life that I hadn’t known. In particular his amazing military service during WWII when he showed extraordinarily heroic bravery though may also have committed what could be considered as war crimes now. And he was a very successful businessman in his early days. But he also made huge mistakes and ultimately failed.

His downfall was epic but he exhibited the characteristics of many successful business people: bullying, boorishness, bluster, bullshit, and ego-wanking. I suspect many of us enjoy the fall from grace of successful business people as so many of them are deeply unpleasant. But perhaps the sad truth is that the nature of business means you can’t be successful unless you act in this way.

Another hospital appointment with mum

With mum to the hospital on Monday for another outpatients appointment, this one to look at if she needs the cataract in her other eye operated on. These drawn out sessions are enough to bring anyone down. Especially with the long bus journey there and back. Plus this time we spent the whole 2 hours it took in the warren that is the hospital basement. Decision is to put off the second eye operation until vision in it gets a lot worse.

A trip with mum to IKEA

Wednesday, me and Dave ‘treated’ mum with a trip to IKEA. TBH, she was keen to go as there were several things she wanted. Not mega busy but mum got worn out walking around and had to sit down a few times. Needless to say we only managed to get one of the things she wanted. A snack in the cafeteria then the trip back home. Mum talks about doing these trips out but they really wear her (and me) out.

Me and Dave treating each other

It’s always easy to ignore your other half when things are busy or you have the blues. Taking for granted their support and patience. Dave is also feeling quite stressed at the moment with work so there’s always potential for tension between us. Thus very nice to treat ourselves and go out to eat a couple of nights. Tuesday and Thursday evenings we went to a very busy Union Jack Club for a non-extravagant and reasonably priced meal.

Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.” 

Marie Curie

Trying to create a new routine

Still struggling to find a routine for my language learning without the gym and holiday time. In theory, I have acres of time but I think anyone who is retired will tell you that’s not how it feels. So I’ve been doing my daily Duolingo language learning but not to the amount I have done in the previous few weeks. Is my failure to make time for something I so enjoy another sign of the blues?

Getting rid, bit by bit

One of the things you find in history is that normal people are very aware of the things they own as they generally owned very little. Indeed, wills are fascinating documents with people leaving very minor things to others so demonstrating their value. Then the consumer revolution came and now we are swamped by objects so that we have completely lost awareness of what we have.

I have realised this because I have been undertaking a process for several years of downsizing. A new thing I am doing is taking a drawer, cupboard, or shelf and going through them one at a time. Identifying what I have (a pleasant surprise to find things I had forgotten about) and what I don’t need. Those clothes I don’t wear, those books I will never have time to read, and those DVDs I won’t watch.

I honestly think the less stuff you have then the more precious are the things that you have left. Owning less may not be a cure for the blues. But it is definite that just having loads of stuff is not a way to find happiness.

The throwaway society

Squirrels vs my plants

An amusing story. I decided to sort out the plants on the window ledge of my bedroom; always important to create a bit of nature wherever you can. On my estate, we have a lot of squirrels who basically are all over the rubbish area. Indeed, my belief is that squirrels are just rats but with a good PR agency. So on my ledge I found a piece of cake. The only way it could have been put there was by a bloody squirrel. And I’m pretty sure they’ve been digging up some of my plants on the ledge as well.

  • Carry on riding the blues and wait for things to get better
  • Another week without the gym, fingers crossed it’s the last. A couple of swims booked as compensation.
  • Seeing the physio about my injury on Monday. But he’s no magician and I’ll probably just get more exercises to do that ultimately may speed up the healing process
  • Another hospital appointment with mum (Rheumatology) and an eye-test for glasses post-cataract operation
  • Reading an excellent fictional account of the First World War and a far more challenging novel in an experimental style
  • Should be meeting with our friend Patrick a couple of times as we normally do each week

A gift from the artist Cold War Steve

Cold War Steve

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